Wanderers out of the Papa John Shield

Captain Sam Taylor leads a break

By Colin Whiteley

Thanet Wanderers RUFC 22-38 Ashford RFC

Wanderers pack was unchanged from that which played in the first round win at Cranbrook last week. In the centre Adam Harrison replaced Max Rogers who tweaked a hamstring at training. Ellis Taylor returned on the left wing for Harrison Quittenden who was on Kent Under 20 duty.

Two weeks ago, Thanet defeated Ashford at St Peters in time added to their final league fixture but it was the visitors who progressed in this Papa John trophy second round tie.

Wanderers played with the slope and the strong northerly wind at their backs in the first half but it was Ashford who took early control of the game. It was no surprise when they went ahead with a try near the right corner that was well converted after eight minutes. A second, very similar try followed four minutes later but this time the conversion bounced back off a post, however Ashford were ahead 12-0.

Charlie Panteli defends at a breakdown

Wanderers’ winger, Lewis Downer, was already sidelined with injury and lock forward Dennis Davies soon followed him with a shoulder injury. They were replaced by Tom Stevens and Regan Doody. On twenty minutes Charlie Panteli converted a penalty opportunity that put Thanet on the board at 3-12 and there were promising signs when an Ashford line-out was stolen and Stevens led a breakout that put Wanderers on the attack. The visitors’ heavier scrum was rewarded with a scrum pushover after thirty minutes and an unconverted try to lead 3-17.

The restart was knocked on and a penalty for not releasing established Wanderers deep in Ashford’s half. After a hotly contested five minutes, Thanet’s outside centre, Callum Doody, finally crossed for Wanderers and Panteli’s conversion made the score 10-17. Back came Ashford and some good handling in the half’s final play, resulted in a touchdown under the posts that, with the conversion, gave the visitors a 10-24 half-time lead.

Another new name was in the Wanderers backline for the second half as Zack Ralph became the latest Wanderers Colt to get a taste of senior rugby and he was soon fully involved in a lively start to the second half. Thanet’s pack was then further changed as Luke Browning took a break with Ed Plori on.

Scrums were fiercely contested throughout the game and young tighthead, Jack Brewer, was  replaced by Lenny Brown who returned after paternity leave. Ten minutes into the half a well-judged little kick through was touched down by Ashford and five minutes later a further converted try followed that gave them a 10-38 lead.

Tom Walton breaks with Brett Scott in support

There was no giving up from Wanderers as Captain Sam Taylor led attack after attack on the visitors’ line but they were met with some strong defending. Today’s referee, Oliver Tyson, eventually decided that a card was due for an Ashford lock forward and a minute later Callum Doody touched down for his double that could not be converted. Try as they might, Thanet’s forwards could not break the visitors’ line again until moments after Ashford were restored to full numbers, another yellow was shown to one of their players.

Time was running short when Thanet’s inside-centre Adam Harrison powerfully finished off a great break from scrum-half Tom Walton.  Panteli’s conversion was good and moments later the final whistle sounded on the first XV’s season with the visitors deserving winners by 38-22.

The second XV will contest the final of the Kent Plate next Sunday the 28th April against Beccehamian 2s. Kick off is listed for 2pm at Canterbury RFC’s ground. Please support the team in the final fixture of the men’s season.